Saturday, 29 November 2008

Scheduling conflicts

The International Conference on Financing for Development 2008 is a four-days UN conference currently taking place in Qatar. Few Western leaders actually decided to attend this summit while the heads of IMF and the World Bank are simply absent. 

It looks a bit like there was no direct line between Washington (or Lima where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting took place) and Doha. Amran Abocar writes for Reuters:  

"International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and World Bank President Robert Zoellick cited scheduling conflicts."

At the same time, "according to World Bank estimates, 40 million people will be dragged into poverty in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis and related economic meltdown."

By the way, Doha what?

Friday, 28 November 2008

After the fact: international coverage of Washington summit

G20 summit in Washington took place more than a week ago, on November, the 15th.The event’s coverage reveals how big promises eventually led to little action, as many articles published in the international press tend to prove.

For the Economist (16/11/2008) though it was “not a bad weekend’s work”. Despite a negative headline, the general report reflects some satisfaction . “The success of this weekend’s gathering has permanently changed the machinery of international economic co-operation”. But readers are not told how it did precisely.

Moving away from a European coverage, in Nairobi, the Business Daily Africa (25/11/2008) considers “G20 did not tackle real issues facing financial system”. John Kemp, a Reuters columnist, explains how the comparison with Bretton Woods prepared unrealistic expectations. Both due to a lack of preparation and regulatory will.
The Hindu Business Line (18/11/2008) covered the meeting in a rather critical article available as well on the Chinese Elections and Governance website. It is entitled “G-20 summit: No happy ending”. J. Srivinivasan says the summiteers’ good intentions sound like “political escapism” and highlights a contradiction: “Till yesterday the champions of ‘light touch’ regulations, today they want financial market transparency.”

But good intentions are not enough to moralize finance markets. “None of the banks that took help from British government to recapitalise has passed on interest rate cuts.”
According to J. Srivinivasan, China and India differed in their response to the crisis and have been blamed for doing what G20 leaders are promising now: “Strengthening countries financial regulatory regimes”.

As a consequence, Washington may partly give up its leading role. Martine Bulard, in Le Monde Diplomatique (French edition, November 2008) outlines the increasing importance of China who “became the United-States banker”. Al Ahram Weekly (20-26/11/2008), published in Cairo, develops the same argument. Gamal Nkrumah says “China, however, would not bail out the Western nations unconditionally”, hinting at a new stake in international relations. This may be the last but not least political consequence of the economic crisis.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

What about your own bailout?

Read in The NationLetters (10/11/2008) page 2

"(...) I have contacted my Congressman asking where to get the forms for my own bailout. Unfortunately, I haven't heard back."
Greg Hillier, Quincy, Mass.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Right time for meeting Anas Aremeyaw Anas, investigative reporter

Invited by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (City University, London 24/11/08) Anas Arameyaw Anas, a Ghanaian reporter, developed his own views about ethics in reporting.

Taking "an African perspective", he mentioned different stories and justified the methods of undercovered journalism by the search of public interest. 
He said: "whatever you do, you are taking risks; go for the hard ones!" Yet, this does not mean he wants to die.  Anas evoked the different stories he covered for his newspaper, the Crusading Guide. One of the most interesting is entitled "Ghanaians eating maggots?". It is related to Eurofood company (13/06/06) whose flour was infested with maggots. "Products of Eurofood can be found in the markets of Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte-d'Ivoire" and other West African countries. His investigation raised an issue of public health and reflects as well how far some companies care for their Third-World clients. Business is business. 

He talked about timing as well - which seems to be a crucial question for investigative reporters. How to decide when is the right moment? This reminded me of a distinction made by Greek philosophers between kronos and kairos. The first expression refering to chronological time while the second is a moment of undetermined period of time. Period of time in which something happens.
Anas explained: "you have to be careful and patient, but being too careful and too patient, you might miss the story".

Apparently Anas Arameyaw Anas - who received last month the Kurt Schork award - knows quite well how to deal with contingent circumstances. He masters "time in between": such stuff our stories are made on.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Why a smart phone would never replace a smart brain and a strong stomach

Read yesterday in the Style supplement of the Sunday Times (November 23, 2008), a pathetic review by AA Gill, about a mobile phone:

"Getting a new phone is like getting a voracious Ukrainian mistress - it looks brilliant and you want to stroke it all the time, but it's high maintenance."

This sexist metaphor is served up throughout the article but a taster is enough, as the poor quality of a starter often reveals the complete failure of main dish. Gill's metaphor is actually greasy and tasteless. Though he probably thinks he is a super brave guy with a great sense of provocative humor.

The fact he is writing in a magazine published by a famous British newspaper might strengthen his illusions and impunity.
Confusing his sexual fantasies with geopolitics, Gill believes that Ukraine is a huge reserve of poor starving sexy women, presumably waiting to be saved by pompous Times journalists. Bon appétit!